By Phillip Guy Ellis
Star Wars goes Rogue?
Film – Rogue One
Star – Felicity Jones
Genre – Science – Fiction
Run Time – 2 hr 13 minutes
Certificate – PG13
Country – U.S.A
Amazon – £ DVD
Oscars – 2 nominations
Awards – 23 Wins & 78 Nominations
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In a movie theatre far far away I sat in the iconic Leicester Square cinema for the British Premier of Star Wars back in 1977. Our family won tickets through a carpet company promotion and we all packed into a coach and off we went to London to join the great and the good. Mom says I saw Barry Norman and Nicholas Parsons. I don’t remember. There can’t be a person over 40 who wasn’t in awe of that film back then as that familiar Imperial Star Cruiser wedge shaped behemoth rumbled over our heads and into the cinema those four decades ago. Lucas really was ahead of his time.
And so all these years later and the story grumbles on through space like the critics write -ups of Rogue One although the special effects no longer as unique and thrilling and the franchise comfortably back in the Since Fiction pack. But the storyline is back on top track after 4 tedious movies the cast is more representative of the people who buy the tickets around the world and that now familiar action movie emancipated plucky female in the leading role. Disney bagged the rights to the franchise for $3.5 billion dollars and they know their audience. Ever since The Hunger Games and Katniss Everdean mega success the big studios have no problem in moving away from the square-jawed, handsome white skinned 30something man in the lead.
The other cast members also represent this particular planet and plenty of new characters for each overseas market to relate to. Donnie Yen and Jet Li were approached to play a blind warrior but Li wanted $10 million against Yen’s $4 million and only one winner there. Now familiar British Pakistani comic actor Riz Ahmed appears to represent the old Empire of South East Asia in the film. Because much of the film was shot at Pinewood Studios in the U.K near Wembley where Ahmed grew up, he spent most of filming living at his parents’ home. It’s always surreal when a massive Sci-fi is filmed in mundane everyday urban locations you do your weekly shopping in.
The three Disney films so far – Stars Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Rogue One (2016) and The Last Jedi (2017), are the missing bricks in the middle of the 9 films so far and pick up on the story 32 years after The Clone Wars (2008) and this film leading up to the Death Stars destruction we see in the original Stars Wars (1977). Film 10 is set for 2019 release and no idea where that one sits as I have not seen film 9 in the cinema yet.
-Star Wars Trivia-
A recent eagle-eyed Star Wars fan scanning Google Earth happened upon the Millennium Falcon used in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, hidden from the ground behind seven iron shipping containers in the small Longcross Studios in Surrey. Who knew Churtsey would be its final resting place after fizzing across the universe!
Felicity Jones … Jyn Erso
Diego Luna … Cassian Andor
Alan Tudyk … K-2SO
Donnie Yen … Chirrut Îmwe
Wen Jiang … Baze Malbus
Ben Mendelsohn … Orson Krennic
Guy Henry … Governor Tarkin
Forest Whitaker … Saw Gerrera
Riz Ahmed … Bodhi Rook
Mads Mikkelsen … Galen Erso
Jimmy Smits … Bail Organa
Alistair Petrie … General Draven
Genevieve O’Reilly … Mon Mothma
Ben Daniels … General Merrick
Paul Kasey … Admiral Raddus
Plot wise and plucky free spirit Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is in Imperial forces custody after the previous films antics and heading for the Empires main labor camp on the moon of Webani. The Rebel Alliance soon spring her and after some resistance to her new captors, leader Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his stroppy droid K-230 (Alan Tudyk) get her off the rock to relative safety. She agrees to listen to rebel commands reasons for lifting her and from the back story we learn her father Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) was once an important Imperial scientist gone rogue but she hasn’t seen him or her mother for 15 years. The rebels think he is active again and want to use her as bait to shut him down, believed to be helping to build some sort of super weapon on the Death Star.
So off they go to an arid planet called Jedah to meet a man called Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), who can help them find Galen. A blind man with ‘Force’ like powers, Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and his sidekick Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), also want to help out as home truths are revealed. But they may be too late as the weapon is active and about to be warmed up, focusing the minds of the rebellion. Somehow they have to rally the troops and take out that weapon or the Imperial forces and their leader Darth Vadar will rule the universe.
After the retro and rather good fun The Force Awakens did a record two billion dollars to be the third highest grossing movie of all time behind the rather silly Avatar and underrated Titanic, Rouge One has already run up one billion dollars after its summer DVD release kicked it on some. Rogue One doesn’t have the same nostalgia of TFA as we got to see those old faces and Rogue One very much a movie aimed at Star Wars fans. It’s all about completion but also setting up new storylines with those new characters. They want those gaps filling in and Disney have the bricks, mortar and time to do that, and have already recovered the money they paid got the franchise. It’s just a ton more action figures mom has to buy the kids.
The acting is Star Wars basic and the plot likewise to make sure it’s not too complicated for those overseas territories and new foreign fans. A big chunk of India is still illiterate and so subtitles not much use. The pictures must tell the stories. As I say the special effects stuff is perfunctory now and no longer an advantage to the franchise to get it noticed and so not it’s USP. George Lucas first reanimation of Star Wars in the early new millennium was bad because he was let loose on that new box of CGI tricks with no one tapping him on the shoulder and saying – ‘George, the screen is too cluttered and busy with robots, characters and landscapes… stop! But he didn’t and the magic was gone. Directors JJ Abrahams (TFA) and Gareth Evans quickly identified that was the problem and pulled the right big rusty levers to slow things down, de clutter the universe and get the films back on track. This film is not as good as TFA but that got you back involved in the franchise and so you can cut Rogue One some slack. It’s nowhere near the thrilling experience of film 7 but it will make a nice DVD Christmas present for the kids to go with their new action figures and set up a January trip to the cinema to see film 9. Star Wars is well and truly back!
IMDb.com – 7.8/10.0 (367.234votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 85% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 65% critic’s approval
Rating: 3/5BEST QUOTES